R. A. Butler (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: As chief architect of the Education Act of 1944, Butler accomplished one of the major educational reforms of the twentieth century, establishing the outlines of contemporary English secondary education. In the realm of politics, Butler was largely responsible for leading the Conservative Party’s acceptance of the welfare state and the mixed economy following the Labour Party’s triumph in the 1945 general elections.
Son of Sir Montague Butler, an official in the Indian Civil Service, Richard Austen Butler was born at Attock, Seral, India (now Pakistan), on December 9, 1902. Although the Butler family had little landed wealth, they had a distinguished record of public service, especially in the field of education. The family included ancestors who were headmasters at Harrow, a governor of Burma, and a master of Pembroke College, Cambridge, a position eventually attained by Butler’s own father. On his mother’s side, Butler was descended from an energetic family of Scottish missionaries, civil servants, and academics.
At an early age, his father gave Butler the diminutive “Rab” (taken from his initials) as a useful shorthand in any future career. He was known as Rab Butler in both public and private for the rest of his life. Under the tutelage of his father, young Butler developed a respect for the Indian people and their customs without the condescension that was...
(The entire section is 3041 words.)
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